Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 21, 2005
WAR: Putin, Up Close and Personal

There was a great article in the March 2005 issue of The Atlantic profiling Vladimir Putin (it's available on the web only to subscribers but worth reading however you can get it). Paul Starobin, the author of the piece, makes the point that Putin doesn't fit neatly into Western efforts to either embrace him as a democrat or denounce him as a dictator, and divides the profile in three parts: Putin the fighter, the Chekist (i.e., his KGB background), and the religious believer. On the first point, Starobin's profile draws an obvious parallel to Theodore Roosevelt, as Putin was a weak, sickly kid who by force of will transformed himself into a judo champion. On the latter point, Starobin notes that Putin is apparently a devout follower of the Russian Orthodox church - a fact that, as with the religious Tony Blair, helps explain why Putin hit it off immediately with George W. Bush. (One amusing fact I didn't know: down the hall from Putin's Kremlin office is a private Orthodox chapel built by Boris Yeltsin in what used to be Josef Stalin's living quarters. The irony is delicious).

Starobin also notes that Putin views the battle against Islamic terrorism as Russia's to win, and of course that's another reason why he's seen as a key ally in the war on terror, for all the faults of his regime and the difficulties he's given us in Iraq and Iran. The best allies in this fight are the ones who see themselves not as coming to U.S. aid but as themselves having a stake in the fight, like Israel, India, and Australia (one reason Blair has taken so much heat is because not enough people in Britain share his view that the fight is Britain's).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:52 AM | War 2005 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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